The Anaheim Ducks entered the National Hockey League as an expansion franchise 20 years ago for the 1993-94 season. While they remain one of the younger franchises in the league, the team’s roster has included some of the greatest players in the NHL during the past two decades, including at least two likely Hall of Fame players. As the Ducks start their third decade in the NHL, let’s take a look at five of the greatest players to play for the team during the past 20 years.
5. Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Giguere’s place in this list is not for his career accomplishments, but what he specifically accomplished during the 2007 playoffs. Giguere anchored the Ducks during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2007, and serves as a prime example of how a playoff team can ride a hot goalie far into the playoffs, even all the way to the Cup. In 2007, the Ducks were getting “Jiggy with it” as the team quickly dispatched the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks 4-1 in the first two rounds. Taking on the Detroit Red Wings in the Conference Final, Giguere elevated his play and helped secure a 4-2 series victory. His stellar goaltending then supported a 4-1 series win over the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup Final. Giguere maintained a high-level of play from 2002-03 through 2007-08, winning over 150 games for the Ducks during this period.
4. Paul Kariya
Kariya was one of the first young stars for the Ducks. After being drafted by the Ducks and joining the team for the 1994-95 season, Kariya quickly established himself as a great playmaker and scorer from the wing. While he was smaller than most NHL forwards, Kariya excelled with the puck due to his quickness and end-to-end speed. Kariya and Teemu Selanne combined to lead the Ducks through the late 1990’s and into the early 2000’s. After nine strong seasons with the team, Kariya currently ranks second in goals, assists, and points in the franchise’s history.
3. Scott Niedermayer
The first of two likely Hall-of Fame players on this list, Niedermayer may be best known for his time with the New Jersey Devils. In fact, it was Niedermayer’s Devils that defeated the Ducks in the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003. However, Ducks fans will always think of Niedermayer in a positive fashion as he helped to lead the team to its first and only Stanley Cup in 2007, winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs in the process. Niedermayer provided the Ducks with veteran leadership and great defensive play during his five years with the team.
2. Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf leads the new, current core of the Ducks. In eight seasons with the club, Getzlaf has already established himself as star. He is rapidly climbing the rankings in all-time scoring for the franchise, ranking fifth in goals, tied for second in assists, and sitting in third overall for total points. Getzlaf fills the role of facilitator on offense, leading the team in assists for the past six years. At only 28 years old, Getzlaf still has the opportunity and several more years to establish himself as the best player in Ducks history. For now though, he has to settle for second place.
1. Teemu Selanne
Selanne came to the Ducks in the middle of the 1995-96 season after three and half dynamic years with the Winnipeg Jets. His first stint with the Ducks included four full seasons, with two 100 point performances. After three and half largely unproductive seasons spent in San Jose and Colorado, Selanne returned to the Ducks for the 2005-06 season and quickly regained the stellar form that made him a star through the 1990’s. After racking up 90-point seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07, Selanne’s production has tapered off a bit with age, but his leadership and uncanny ability to find the back of the net have allowed him to continue to excel while playing into his 40’s. Selanne ranks as the Duck’s leader in games played, goals, assists, and total points. He is without a doubt the best player in Anaheim Ducks’ history.